Trump Pardons Oregon Cattle Ranchers, Citing ‘Overzealous Appeal’ by Obama Administration

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President Trump signed full pardons on Tuesday for OR cattle ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven Hammond, whose long-running dispute with the federal government ended with prison sentences for arson - and later inspired the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.

The White House noted that Dwight Hammond, 76, had already served about three years behind bars and that his son Steven, 49, had served almost four years in prison.

Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted in 2012 of intentionally setting fires on public lands under a domestic terrorism law, after having served several months in jail for the same offense.

The White House's statement added that the "previous administration ... filed an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison".

In a statement Tuesday announcing the pardon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized uncertainties in the case and the prison terms and fines the Hammonds had already completed.

"The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West", Sanders said.

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The Oregon Farm Bureau also released a statement on the pardons, thanking everyone who "worked to end the injustice done to Steven and Dwight Hammond".

Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Walden of OR, who lobbied the White House for the pardon of the Hammonds, said Trump's decision was "a win for justice, and an acknowledgement of our unique way of life in the high desert, rural West".

Their plight prompted Ammon and Ryan Bundy's Citizens for Constitutional Freedom to stage a protest, occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern OR from January 2 to February 11, 2016.

Dwight Hammond is now 76 years old and has served approximately three years in prison. The federal sentencing of Dwight and Steven Hammond for arson sparked the anti-government occupation. One of the occupiers, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was shot dead by Oregon State Police during the takeover.

The pardons come as some federal employees in the rural West are wary of what they say is a high likelihood that more standoffs could develop, NPR's Kirk Siegler reports, citing soil scientists, cattle range managers, and the people who staff recreation sites. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

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